Breakfast Ice Pops? Yes, Please!

This kid-friendly recipe will make breakfast a breeze.

August 29, 2016

You had me at “breakfast ice pops.” That was what my kids’ faces said when I announced what we’d be eating for breakfast tomorrow and told them we’d be whipping up a batch together. I got the idea from the Little Global Chefs website, and it really is ingenious — a popsicle with all sorts of healthy breakfast staples in it, like yogurt and fruits. Maybe you could even send the kids out to the backyard to eat it so there’s no mess to clean up afterwards!

breakfast popsicles

Here’s the recipe, adapted from Little Global Chefs.

Breakfast Ice Pops

Ingredients:

1 cup fresh or frozen strawberries
1 handful fresh or frozen blueberries
1 handful fresh or frozen pineapple
1 ripe banana
1/2 cup kefir, milk or fruit juice
3 tablespoons chia seeds
1 cup Greek yogurt

Directions:

1. Place all the fruit in a blender (if using frozen fruit, you may need to thaw it first). Add the kefir, milk or fruit juice and the chia seeds. Blend until everything’s smooth, and set aside.

2. Spoon about 1 tablespoon Greek yogurt into each well of an ice pop mold (Dixie cups and popsicle sticks can be used in place of a mold).

3. Pour your blended mixture into each well, over the Greek yogurt.

4. Freeze for 6 hours or until completely frozen. Enjoy!

Little Global Chefs is an awesome resource if you’re looking for kid-friendly recipes that’ll help you put an end to picky eating. Check out our past interview with the local moms who founded the site.

Tips for a Healthy Back to School Season

Scarsdale Medical Group's Pediatrician shares her best advice

August 26, 2016

This post was brought to you by Scarsdale Medical Group

It’s officially back-to-school season, which means spending more time with school friends, back to routines & schedules and inevitably, sharing germs in closer indoor spaces. We worked with Scarsdale Medical Group’s Pediatrician, Dr. Amy Lief, to answer your questions about children’s health and how to have the healthiest back-to-school season yet.

back-to-school-2009-buying-guide

1) How many hours of sleep do kids really need when it comes to enforcing healthy sleep habits after summer vacation? 

All parents want to know if they are sending their kids to bed early enough. While it is tempting to believe that your child who resists bedtime “just doesn’t need a lot of sleep,” there are helpful guidelines about how much sleep children really do need at different ages.

  • Infants aged 4 to 12 months old need 12-16 hours (including naps.)  
  • Toddlers aged 1-2 years need 11-14 hours (including naps.)  
  • Preschoolers aged 3-5 years need 10-13 hours (including naps.)  
  • Children aged 6-12 years need 9-12 hours.
  • Teens 13-18 years need 8-10 hours.

2) What are your favorite energizing snacks to pack in kids’ backpacks?

School-aged kids need snacks both during the school day and after school.  There is no lack of pre-packaged snack food marketed to children on supermarket shelves, but many of it is loaded with refined sugar, salt and unhealthy fats.  Some better alternatives are things such as whole grain crackers, dried fruits, whole grain pretzels, nuts (if allowed in school), low fat granola bars, high fiber breakfast cereals, or fresh fruit.

If you have a small container with a cold pack or freezer lid, other good choices can be low-fat yogurt or cheese, hummus/dip with cut veggies or whole grain pita or baked chips.

Some of my own kids’ favorite snacks are homemade oat bran muffins with blueberries (or even better, a few chocolate chips!) or a bag with mixed nuts and a few dark chocolate chips sprinkled in. These feel like dessert but can be made relatively low in sugar and are packed with protein and fiber as well!

3) Are all backpacks the same? Anything to look out for when choosing a size or straps? 

It is important to select a backpack that is the correct size for your child. The bottom of the pack should rest in the curve of the lower back and should never fall more than 4 inches below the child’s waist.  The best are those with well-padded shoulder straps.  A waist belt will help distribute a pack’s weight more evenly.

Adjust the pack so that it fits snugly on the back. If too loose, the backpack can pull the child backward and strain muscles. Teach your child to load the heaviest items closest to the back, as this reduces strain.

A child’s pack should weigh no more than about 10% of his or her body weight. Keep in mind that water bottles can add a lot of weight when full! If the backpack is frequently too heavy for your child, consider one on wheels if your school allows it.

4) Aside from recess, how much physical activity should you try to schedule into your child’s day? 

Children kindergarten age and older need at least 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous exercise per day.  (Vigorous activity is movement that makes you sweat and breathe fast.)  The 60 minutes don’t have to happen all together, or be part of a formal sport. Integrate exercise into your child’s day by walking briskly or skipping to or from school, going for a bicycle ride, or by pumping up the music at home and having a living room dance party.

5) What are ways to boost immunity in kids – vitamins? Echinacea? I feel like my kids start getting sick the moment they return to school … and it doesn’t let up till March!

There is no vitamin or supplement on a pharmacy shelf that actually has been shown to boost your child’s immune system. In fact, overdoing many of the drug-store supplements can be harmful.  Things like vitamin C, widely thought to be helpful in fighting colds, can actually cause nausea and diarrhea in large quantities.  

It is normal for healthy children to get upper respiratory infections 1-2 times per month while in school.  As a parent, this can seem like a constant runny nose from fall to spring!  To minimize your child’s risk of illness, the most important thing to do is stay up-to-date with routine immunizations AND be sure to get an influenza vaccine each year.  Teach your child not to share drinks or food with classmates and to wash hands frequently.  All kids should be taught to cover their coughs with an inner arm and to throw out tissues promptly after using them.

6) What’s the latest stance on hand sanitizers? Should our kids be carrying a small bottle around at school to use before snack and lunch?

The best way for children to clean hands is with good old-fashioned soap and water.  If there is either a sink in your child’s classroom or a nearby bathroom, encourage your child to wash hands frequently and especially before eating.

Hand sanitizers can certainly be a good option for ridding hands of germs when a sink is not available. However, some young children are swallowing hand sanitizer, which often contains alcohol.  If taken in large quantities, it can cause alcohol poisoning.  If you are planning to send hand sanitizer to school with your child, be sure to teach him or her the correct way to use it.  Teach how much to use (dime-sized amount) and emphasize that your child not put hands wet with sanitizer in his or her mouth.  Consider using non-alcohol based products.

On a personal note, I do not give my two school-aged sons immune-boosting supplements, nor do they go to school with hand sanitizer. While each day in my house is far from perfect, the goals of getting sufficient sleep, eating healthy meals and snacks, getting an hour or more of exercise a day, and vaccinations are the keys to good health in our family!

Dr. LiefAmy E. Lief, MD, MS, FAAP is board certified in pediatrics and is a Fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics. She has served on the faculties of New York University School of Medicine and the Columbia University Medical Center as an instructor and as assistant clinical professor, respectively. Dr. Lief is committed to providing excellent and comprehensive pediatric care. She enjoys forming strong relationships with her patients and their families.

The provision of high-quality, personalized health care to Westchester County and New York’s Hudson Valley region has been the mission of the Scarsdale Medical Group for more than 50 years. Their working philosophy of compassion, confidence, and commitment has enabled them to become known and respected by patients and peers throughout the tri-state area.

Scarsdale Medical Group, 600 Mamaroneck Avenue, Suite 301, Harrison; (914)723-8100

Sponsored Post: Ensure a Safe Summer of Driving for Your Teen

Advocate Brokerage Insurance gives their safety advice

August 24, 2016

This post was brought to you by Advocate Brokerage.

All parents want their kids to have a fun, safe summer but it is also the most dangerous time of year for teens on the road.  As an insurance advocate, Advocate Brokerage wants to provide as much information as possible so that fellow parents can educate their kids and keep them driving safe all summer long.

Teen-Driver-Safety

Why is summer driving so dangerous?  
Summer months put more cars on the road.  Families are on vacation, kids are out of school, and teens have more time to hang out with their friends.

How bad is it?  
Statistically 10 people die each day during the summer in automobile accidents involving teens.  They call the time frame between Memorial Day and Labor Day the 100 Deadliest Days because there are 38% more fatalities for the 15 – 19 year old age range.

What is a parent to do?

  • Set a good example. Sometimes we are so busy telling our kids what to do that we forget the importance of being a good role model.  That means that we have to adhere to traffic laws and use common sense every time we get behind the wheel.  If we don’t wear our seatbelts, text while driving and make the decision to drive home after we’ve had a drink or two we are telling our kids that it is ok to let those rules slide.  Arranging for an alternative ride after having a few drinks at a family party will send a clear message without you ever having to open your mouth!
  • Keep an open dialogue. Talk to them about their plans.  If they are heading out on the road to an unfamiliar destination, offer to help them navigate the route.  Talk to them about not only the big things like distracted driving, drunk driving and speeding but also simple things like maintaining tire pressure and wearing seat belts.  Don’t assume they know, instead help to prepare them for the unexpected.  It is also a good idea to talk to them about what to do if they are in an accident.
  • Set expectations.  You are the best judge of your child’s abilities and limitations.  If you are concerned that they are going to be distracted when taking a car full of buddies out for a drive, set a limit on the number of passengers they are allowed to have in the car.

Your Insurance Needs
Having a teen driver in the house is not only stressful, it is expensive!  Adding a teen driver to your policy increases the average automobile premium by 79%.  (New Yorkers don’t panic – the average increase is 52% for us).  Advocate Brokerage helps guide their customers to the best possible coverage for the best possible cost.  They have created a guide for teen drivers and their parents, which offers advice on adding a teen to your policy, a Teen Driving Contract and a guide for what to do if they are involved in an auto accident.  Click here for your copy.

Protecting your family is the most important part of what Advocate Brokerage does.  They are always there to offer information and advice or to make recommendations so you can have peace of mind and enjoy your teenager.  Contact them with questions or for more information! 

Advocate Brokerage, 820 Scarsdale Ave, Scarsdale; 914-723-7100

Back-to-School Products Recommended by Moms

From bento boxes to wall calendars, here are the things that will keep you organized.

August 22, 2016

Crayons, glue sticks, scissors — is there anything worse than back-to-school shopping? I can never find the exact thing that’s listed. (Why does Crayola make so many different kinds of markers?) But then there’s the stuff I do enjoy buying for the upcoming school year — the cool gadgets and accessories that keep our lives running smoothly. There’s some pretty neat stuff out there. Here are some favorites.

bentgo and yumbox bento boxes

Bento Lunch Boxes
My friend Maria brought a Bentgo Kids Lunchbox ($28) to a preschool lunch bunch one afternoon, and all the moms couldn’t stop oohing and ahhing over it. There were five sections to fit a variety of foods, including a small space for ketchup or sauces. Each space is completely sealed by the lid, so no leaks, even between the spaces. After getting my own Bentgo, I realized that the largest section, which fits a half sandwich, was great for my 5-year-old, but my 7-year-old, who eats a whole sandwich, would need larger spaces. So I got her the Yumbox ($28), another box that has four bigger sections instead of five smaller ones. Worked out perfectly.

contigo kids water bottles

Water Bottles
Strange to think that when we were kids, we drank from the school water fountains and everything was just fine. Nowadays the water bottle is the most essential school item. I read through hundreds of water bottle reviews online, and it seemed like Contigo Kids ($10) was the winner. The thing parents liked most? The straw is tethered to the underside of the lid, so it doesn’t end up swimming in the bottle. I was sold, since that’s the biggest problem with the other bottles we’ve been using. Also neat is the “autospout,” which keeps the bottle leak-proof even when it’s in the open position.

slacklace elastic shoelaces

Elastic Laces
This keeps happening to me: I’m sneaker shopping for my son and I spot the perfect pair — they’re cute, in his favorite color, and even on sale … but they’re lace-ups! He can’t handle laces yet and I can’t handle tying them every five minutes for him. I was bemoaning this problem to my friend Jenny recently, and she had the perfect solution, as she usually does: elastic laces! SlackLace sells them in a dozen different colors ($8) and they look just like regular laces, except you just have to tie them once. The elasticity lets the kids pull on their sneakers without having to untie them. Genius!

family planner wall calendar

Family Planner Wall Calendar
Even though I use the calendar on my iPhone, I’m a wall calendar person at heart. I like seeing the month laid out in front of me. But typical wall calendars can get really messy when you’re scribbling in plans for four people every day, so when I spotted a family planner calendar on my friend Deidra’s fridge a couple of years ago, I knew I had to buy one. Every day is sectioned off with a grid so that each family member has their own space. Everyone’s plans are kept neat and legible. This will be the third year that I use The Busy Family Planner ($15).

mabel's labels name labels

Name Labels
Whenever I think about buying name labels for my kids’ stuff, I remember that Seinfeld episode where Jerry gets a label maker that only makes defective stickers, which end up falling off. But I guess label making has come a long way, because several moms I know swear by Mabel’s Labels ($42 for either the Ultimate Back-to-School Combo or Little Kid School Combo; smaller, less expensive packages are also offered on the site). The stickers are super sticky and super durable — they’re even waterproof, dishwasher safe and microwave safe. You can attach them to everything from thermoses to clothes, even shoes. Plus, I like that the company was founded by four moms.

What products do you love for back to school? And can you believe that the first day is just around the corner?!

Taking a Stand Against the Social Media Mom

Getting over the image that #mylifeisperfect.

August 19, 2016

Editor’s note: This post first ran in the past, but it was so popular that we’ve brought it back as an oldie but goody!

I was at the beach the other day with my 8 and 5-year-old niece and nephew. They pulled together driftwood and towels, beach chairs and tree branches to build a fort. When it was done, it was a hideous fort, pretty much a pile of stuff balanced precariously atop each other, with a long blue noodle (of the swimming kind) flying from the top like a flag. The kids and I couldn’t stop laughing.

kids-beach-fort

“Take a picture and put it on Pinterest,” my 5-year-old nephew yelled out.

How do you explain to a 5-year-old that we would never put this picture on Pinterest. His fort, well, it was a real life fort. It was the kind of mess that happens when two creative kids pull a bunch of stuff together to make something that feels special to them. It wasn’t a trimmed burlap tent perched on a lush swath of grass with tea lights hanging inside and chevron throw pillows lining the walls. Pinterest? No way. It wasn’t remotely good enough. I wouldn’t even put it on Facebook.  […]

Westchester’s Best Playgrounds: Lt. Roy McLaughlin Park in Yonkers

This newish playground boasts some of the wackiest and coolest equipment around.

August 17, 2016

By Michelle Gillan Larkin

It’s not often that I’m dazzled by a playground. I’ve visited dozens in the past six years since my little guy made his entrance into this world, and although some are better than others, after a while, they all look the same. At least, that’s what I was thinking as we pulled up to the relatively new Lt. Roy McLaughlin Park in Yonkers. I realized pretty quickly that I’d have to adjust my thought pattern on this one.

yonkersbestplaygrounds

While this fully gated, 10,000-square-foot mecca of play contains all of the usual swings, slides and stuff to climb, it also has the most eye-catching and wildly unique equipment I’ve ever seen. Plus, the fact that all of it sits atop spongy, rubber tiles just adds to the allure.

For starters, the jungle gyms (big, bigger and biggest) are vibrantly colorful and equipped with bridges, slides, monkey bars and these web-like rope ladders — rope walls, really — that just beg to be scaled. There are also rock walls attached to the structures, and nifty little nooks that are used for hide and seek, or as a hideout from the frenzy of happy activity that abounds. Steps away is a rarely seen seesaw, funky little bowls for sitting and spinning, and a circular rotating contraption that attracts kids like ants to a picnic.

yonkersplaygroundsbest

But the piece de resistance is something that must’ve been dreamed up by an engineer who is part acrobat, part spider. It’s this dome-shaped maze of ropes that is as challenging as it is exciting. It’s not for the very young or faint of heart, as it extends upwards quite high, but it’s manageable for a wiry six-year old with someone (uh, me) giving him a boost at every rung. The eight and older set seem to tackle it just fine solo, while their parents sit back at one of the three umbrella-covered picnic tables.

Last time I judge a playground before I see it. And last time I visit this one without a climbing harness.

Lt. Roy McLaughlin Park, 375 Kneeland Avenue, Yonkers

Date Night: La Panetière in Rye

The Westchester institution continues to serve delicious contemporary French fare.

August 16, 2016

Consider this Date Night: Special Occasion Edition. La Panetière is practically a Westchester institution, having dished out contemporary French fare in a residential Rye neighborhood for more than 30 years. But if you haven’t been recently, it’s time to check out this gem again. My husband and I had the best time. It’s the perfect restaurant at which to spend an evening with your significant other — not a child was in sight. But save the trip for a birthday, anniversary or celebration, because this place is special.

exterior la panetiere

You feel it as soon as you walk into the charmingly cozy space, with its grandfather clock, potted flowering plants, wood-beamed ceilings and Provencal-inspired décor. The style is both elegant and rustic, and I was completely enchanted. How cute is this dishware?

la panetiere french restaurant rye

But that’s just the beginning. The food and service were nothing short of amazing. We knew they would be the moment flaky, still-warm cheese straws were placed in front of us. And I love that the restaurant offers a tasting menu, a rare find in Westchester; for just $90 a person ($140 with wine pairings), you’re treated to a procession of seven seasonal courses, all the dishes delicately flavorful and artfully plated.

la panetiere foie gras flan

Our first course, my favorite one, was a sea scallop carpaccio, the tender, sweet scallops, crunchy sea salt, and citrusy grapefruit aspic providing contrasting textures and flavors that still managed to perfectly complement one another. The foie gras starter that came next (pictured above) was a revelation — I’ve never experienced foie gras in this way, as a light, airy flan, the wild mushrooms providing an earthy accent.

la panetiere lobster casserole

The two main courses, lobster casserole and veal filet mignon, were just as satisfying; I preferred the former, my husband the latter. The lobster was deshelled and plated tableside, then drenched, to my delight, in an herb beurre blanc. Each bite was heaven.

Our dessert courses included a house-made yogurt with exceedingly juicy fresh cherries; a chocolate cake studded with pecan chips, nougat and Nutella; and a tiny tower of sweets, including a strawberry macaron that looked absolutely scrumptious and didn’t disappoint.

la panetiere macaron

It was the greatest meal I’d had in a long time, and the best tasting menu I’ve ever experienced in Westchester (including my birthday dinner at Blue Hill at Stone Barns a few years ago, which, while undeniably grand, cost a whopping $238 … per person). Those who want just a hint of what La Panetière has to offer should jump on the $32 three-course lunch, which is a real bargain for the quality of food and service.

La Panetière, 530 Milton Road, Rye; 914-967-8140

We were visiting some friends in the Battery Park area of the city, standing online for the amazing SeaGlass Carousel, when I spotted it just a few feet away: the terminal for the Staten Island Ferry. “I had no idea it was right here!” I said. “Oh yeah,” our friend replied. “Maybe we should take a ride after the carousel? It’s free.”

staten island ferry terminal batterypark.tv

Easier said than done, I thought, until we actually attempted it right after getting off the carousel. You know what? Taking a ride on the Staten Island Ferry is extremely easy. And fun. And you get gorgeous views of the city and the Statue of Liberty.

staten island ferry statue of liberty

The ferry departs every half hour — you simply walk right on — and on the Sunday afternoon of our visit, it wasn’t crowded at all. Just us, plus a bunch of tourists looking to take photos of the statue and a handful of people actually going to Staten Island. There were plenty of open seats and space for the kids to roam, although I’m sure at rush hour the scene is quite different.

In the 25-minute ride over, we checked out the amazing view from the open deck in the back, looked out the right side of the boat for the Statue of Liberty, and even picked up a bag of freshly popped popcorn and some fountain drinks from the on-board concession stand. The whole trip was downright relaxing.

staten island ferry view from the back

At the Staten Island terminal, we walked off one ramp, then swung around and walked up another, to climb aboard the ferry heading back to Manhattan, which departed right away. The round-trip excursion took about an hour, and the kids were thrilled to have gone on an impromptu boat ride and spotted the Statue of Liberty. I was thrilled that it had all been free!

Staten Island Ferry, Manhattan Terminal, 4 Whitehall Street, New York

Who hasn’t had at least one preggers friend post adorable pictures of a gender reveal party? Well, get ready to be invited to a new kind of bash: A baby name reveal party.

babycenter-name-reveal

Forget staying mum until the due date. (Like I did both times!) According to BabyCenter.com, parents today spend so much time agonizing over their expectant child’s name that they’re holding get togethers and finding creative ways to let the name slip. Here’s what they said couples are doing:

Watercolor Painting Name Reveal: Before guests arrive, write each letter of the name on a sheet of watercolor paper using a white crayon. Watercolor paint won’t stick to the white crayon, so as guests begin painting, the baby’s name will slowly be revealed. The parents-to-be then have something they can frame and keep in the baby’s room as a beautiful piece of art.

Crafted Letters Name Reveal: Mix up wooden letters and have guests use arts and crafts supplies that will match the baby’s nursery to decorate each one. Once they finish, they will need to work together, arranging the letters to reveal the baby’s name. Parents can provide clues to help guests, or reveal the first letter of the name to give them a head start.

Name Reveal Puzzles: For each guest, take a child’s puzzle and paint each piece individually. Once dry, assemble the puzzle and use a fine-tipped paintbrush to spell out the baby’s name. Once everything is dry, break apart the puzzle and place it into clear plastic party bags with a tag. Parents can give these to guests as a party favor, or they can be used as the main activity to reveal the name.

Combined Gender & Name Reveal Party: Kick the gender reveal party up a notch by revealing the name at the same time. For example, take the “pink or blue balloon popping out of a box” idea and add the baby’s name on the string of the balloon.

Gedney Park Playground Reopens in Chappaqua

The beloved playground is back, and it’s better and BIGGER than ever!

August 11, 2016

By Michelle Gillan Larkin

If you’ve been hearing whoops and hollers coming from the Chappaqua area, it’s because the playground at Gedney Park is back in business after a complete and total makeover that began this past spring.

gedney-park-reopens-renovation

Every bit of the old, wooden equipment that tickled young visitors for years was carted away, and replaced with swings, slides, and climbing structures that are brand-spanking new. The layout remains the same — kinda nice for those wee creatures of habit — with four baby bucket swings to the far right, four big kid swings to the far left, and two jungle gyms smack dab in the middle. One is petite and compact for the tots, while the older kids have been gifted something that can only be described as sprawling, towering and GIGANTIC.

GedneySmall

Despite its sheer size, this new model resembles the prior one (again, probably no accident), with a curvy tube slide and a long, downhill tube, side by side. However, in this incarnation the slides are unbelievably high and ridiculously fast. I know, because I had to try them. (I can only take so much joy on the face of my 6-year-old before I have to see what I’m missing.) I think I simultaneously uttered “yikes!” and “awesome!” aloud on the way down.

Just like before, the ground is comprised of a healthy layer of cushioning wood chips, and the trees that form a semi-circle around the play area offer cool spots of shade here and there. In addition, there’s still a working water fountain, a couple of picnic tables, and the restrooms are not too far off.

And, after junior has run himself silly, you’ve got 126-acres of parkland and forest just steps away for a stroll or an easy hike if energy abounds. That is, if you didn’t leave your stomach on the slide.

Gedney Park, Route 133, Chappaqua

3 Close Day Trips For Summer

At these locales, you'll find yourself on a kid-friendly adventure.

August 9, 2016

Editor’s note: This post first ran in the past, but it was so popular we thought we’d bring it back as an oldie but goody!

Pack the sip cups — and the stroller. We’ve got a few fun agendas to get you and your little ones out the door this weekend. If the weather doesn’t hold up, file away these day trip ideas for a fun summer weekend. We’ve got a little something for everybody: Hikes, old-fashioned carousels, shopping and a pretty fab dinosaur exhibit.

bear-mountain-bridge

Riding the Carousel at Bear Mountain State Park 
Located about 30 miles north of White Plains, Bear Mountain State Park is for nature lovers. Nestled in the Hudson Highlands, the park sits on the lush banks of the Hudson River and offers plenty of lovely hikes to keep the family busy. But let’s get real: Here’s a place you can bring the kids to go ’round and ’round on the indoor antique merry go round (rides cost $1) to their heart’s content, then bribe them to take a nature walk — or have a picnic on the shores of Hessian Lake. If you’ve got a little one, an Ergo will work better here than a stroller. (There’s a zoo here too, but I’ve never been.) You’ll love the drive over Bear Mountain Bridge — it’s breathtaking enough to make the ride up worth every minute. Parking is $8 per car. To get to Bear Mountain State Park, take 9-A North to the turn-off for Bear Mountain Bridge; some prefer a faster route up the Sprain to the Palisades Parkway. 

burying-hill-beach

Village Tour and Beach Walk in Westport, Connecticut
As soon as you drive over the low-lying Post Road Bridge in Westport, you’ll find yourself in the heart of a picturesque bustling village with lots of upscale shopping. Think: Pottery Barn, Coach, J. Crew, Jack Wills, Vineyard Vines, Apple, Blue Mercury, Patagonia, among many others. There’s plenty of good options for lunch, including the kid-friendly Bobby Q’s Barbecue & Grill, where pulled pork reigns king and shouting kids are nary given a glance. When the kids are ready to run around, hop in the car and head down to one of two area beaches: Compo Beach or Burying Hill Beach (shown above); both require a steep parking fee ($30 to $40 per day) but, if you have it to spare, the stretch of sand is worth it. To get to Westport, take 95-N to Exit 17 for CT-33 or take CT-15N to Exit 42.
 field-station-dinosaurs-new-jersey

Hunting for Dinosaurs in New Jersey
Cross over the GW Bridge and head to a real Jurassic Park in Leonia, New Jersey. Called Field Station: Dinosaurs, this 20 acre theme park has more than 30 life-sized dinosaurs living in the Meadowlands, just as they once did. You can encounter all of the dinosaurs along a 3/4 mile trail (strollers welcome). There are additional exhibits for kids, like puppet shows and interactive performances by a T-Rex about the mysterious disappearances of dinosaurs. There’s even a 3-D movie about dinosaurs and a fossil dig. Your aspiring paleontologist will be in heaven. The Commander’s Pass, which includes all of the extra shows and exhibits, costs $40 for adults; $35 for kids, while a basic pass to see the dinos is $25 for adults; $20 for kids. Children under 2 are free. 40 Fort Lee Road, Leonia, NJ; 855-999-9010

Whenever I attend a baby shower, I like to give the mom-to-be a book on parenting that I think she’ll enjoy and find helpful in the future. Here are some of my favorites books on motherhood, parenting and what to really expect. They’re also fun and fast reads to take to the beach or on the plane this summer.

parenting books summer reading

How Eskimos Keep Their Babies Warm and Other Adventures in Parenting by Mei-Ling Hopgood

Written by a journalist, this delightful book offers a glimpse into the varied child-rearing practices of different countries and cultures, putting into stark relief how there’s more than one way to raise a child. Hopgood gives fun examples (the Argentineans throw the idea of scheduled bedtimes out the window; the Chinese typically start potty-training at six months — and are successful!) through her own observations, as well as interviews with anthropologists, educators and friends that live abroad. In addition to being a fun read, the book’s central message is that parenting need not to be as black and white as we make it here in the States, which I found to be a liberating idea.

When Did I Get Like This?: The Screamer, the Worrier, the Dinosaur-Chicken-Nugget-Buyer, and Other Mothers I Swore I’d Never Be by Amy Wilson

This may be my favorite memoir on motherhood. Wilson is a hilarious, heartwarming and thought-provoking writer, and I related to almost every detail she imparts, even ones that I’ve never personally experienced. The thing I admire most about her series of essays is how balanced they are — never preachy or prejudiced. Wilson addresses topics that are usually a minefield but somehow manages to remain neutral and even come off as endearing. I picked up this book wanting to read about how someone else was having as difficult a time as I was, but ended up with something much better: an uplifting ode to parenting.

Bringing Up Bébé: One American Mother Discovers the Wisdom of French Parenting by Pamela Druckerman

This highly successful book has been lumped in with parenting guides like The Happiest Baby on the Block, but I enjoyed it as more of a glimpse into one mother’s life as an expat in France and her own trials and tribulations with child-rearing. While Druckerman’s anecdotes do lead to helpful advice (maybe you shouldn’t run to pick up a crying baby, or start solids with bland cereals instead of colorful, flavorful purees), what I found most profound were her almost off-handed comments and observations on how her children affected everything in her life, from her work to her relationship with her husband. I really related to this book, and also picked up a useful trick or two.

What are some of your favorite books on parenting?

Sun Hats Round-Up

August 5, 2016

Long days spent at the beach or pool with the kiddos call for a good sun hat. There are so many stylish choices these days that will keep your face protected while looking chic. Here are some of my faves (No. 9 is a go-to!). Toucan Packable Roller Hat, $58, Tuckernuck Striped Sun Hat, $34, J. Crew Mingo Sun Hat, […]

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Barnes and Noble’s Big Idea in Eastchester

August 3, 2016

Barnes and Noble is opening its first “concept” store in the former Borders at the Vernon Hills shopping area in Eastchester this October. Along with the usual large selection of books, there are some surprises, like a large full-service restaurant serving beer and wine in the space, not just an espresso cafe. With the hopes […]

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Jewelry-Making Classes for Kids

August 2, 2016

There are so many options for kids’ classes and mini-camps to ride out the rest of summer, but for my daughter, one activity stood out: jewelry making. She’s always loved beading and braiding friendship bracelets, and the idea of working with real stones and materials really appealed to her. I brought her to Rutheny Jewelry, a […]

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Camping in the Catskills

August 1, 2016

It’s not easy to find the perfect campsite, especially when you’re camping with small children. You need just the right mix of rusticity (to feel like you’re actually camping) and convenience (read: clean and well-placed toilets and showers). So what if I told you that we found a place in the Catskills that’s got it […]

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